Involuntary manslaughter is a term that refers to unintentional killing that is a result of criminal negligence or recklessness. It may also be the charge placed if a person is killed as a result of a low-level felony or misdemeanor crime. Also known as criminally negligent homicide, the term essentially means that a person's actions caused a death but that the death wasn't intentional.
Here's a common example. A man goes for drinks with his coworkers after he gets off. He doesn't eat, so the alcohol enters his system quickly and impairs his ability to drive. He doesn't think he's had too much, so he gets behind the wheel of his car. He drives for a few minutes, but he fails to stop at an intersection and strikes a pedestrian. If the pedestrian dies, then the man could be charged with involuntary manslaughter as well as for the DUI.
The elements of an involuntary manslaughter case include that a person was killed, an act was performed that was reckless or inherently dangerous and that the defendant should have known the conduct was a threat to others. In the above scenario, the man should have known that drunk driving was dangerous and a threat to others, but yet he chose to do it anyway. That's what would make the death categorized as involuntary manslaughter.
If you are charged with involuntary manslaughter, you do have a right to defend yourself. Although this isn't the same as a murder charge, it still has many negative implications that you should address. Our site has more on what to expect.